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Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Dual Citizenship - Part 1 : Dual citizenship and the current constitution (Guest Blog)

I wish to make a contribution to the discussion relating to the issue of dual citizenship in the light of the National Constitutional Conference’s positive consideration of the same, and the general discussion the issue has recently prompted.

"Dual citizenship" is essentially not something that can be applied for; it occurs automatically to some individuals. For example, a child who is born in the United States to foreign parents has United States dual citizenship since the child is automatically a citizen of the United States and a citizen of his or her parents’ home country. This also applies to children of United States citizens born abroad where the child is both a United States citizen and a citizen of the country of birth.

The same situation applies to Zambia, where Article 5 of the 1996 Republican constitution reads as follows: "A person born in or outside Zambia after the commencement of this Constitution shall become a citizen of Zambia at the date of his birth if on that date at least one of his parents is a citizen of Zambia."

Countries worldwide generally provide for such dual citizenship, although there is the potential of loss or cession of such citizenship for a variety of reasons. In the United States, for example, Section 349 of the Immigration and Naturalization Act specifies several conditions under which U.S. citizenship may be lost. These include: (a) becoming a naturalized citizen of another country, or declaring allegiance to another country, after reaching age 18; (b) serving as an officer in a foreign country’s military service, or serving in the armed forces of a country which is engaged in hostilities against the US; (c) working for a foreign government (e.g., in political office or as a civil servant); (d) formally renouncing one’s U.S. citizenship before duly authorized U.S. officials; or (e) committing treason against, or attempting or conspiring to overthrow the government of, the U.S.

Similarly, Article 9 of the current Zambian constitution has stipulated conditions for cession of citizenship as follows: (1) a citizen of Zambia shall cease to be such a citizen if at any time he acquires the citizenship of a country other than Zambia by a voluntary act other than marriage or does any act indicating his intention to adopt or make use of such citizenship; and (2) a person who (a) becomes a citizen of Zambia by registration; and (b) is, immediately after he becomes a citizen of Zambia, also a citizen of some other country shall … cease to be a citizen of Zambia at the expiration of three months after he becomes a citizen of Zambia unless he has renounced the citizenship of that other country, taken the oath of allegiance and made and registered such declaration of his intention concerning residence as may be prescribed by or under an Act of Parliament.

Needless to say, dual citizenship is a complex issue. It is, therefore, important to understand that there are obligations and not only benefits that are associated with being a dual citizen. It, for example, means that a person has to obey the laws of both countries, including paying taxes and serving in the military, if required by any of the countries of which he or she is a citizen.

There are caveats we can draw from Principles of Management and the Holy Bible in this regard. According to the principle of Unity of Command, each and every person should report, or be answerable, to only one superior at any given time to forestall the potential for conflicting directives. From Matthew 6:24, we can learn the following: "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other."

An obvious problem would, for example, arise if two countries of which a person is a citizen are in a conflict. Would he or she side with one of the countries against his or her people in the other country? Finally, can a person claim to be a patriot when he or she pledges allegiance to two or more countries? Or is patriotism a secondary issue when the personal benefits of dual citizenship are involved?

Henry Kyambalesa

Agenda for Change
(Guest Blogger)


  1. Finally, can a person claim to be a patriot when he or she pledges allegiance to two or more countries? Or is patriotism a secondary issue when the personal benefits of dual citizenship are involved?

    Is patriotism a requirement for citizenship of Zambia ?

    Also, I think that in the cases Cho and everybody has in mind, the person actually pledge allegiance to one country as they're Zambian by right (and most likely birth).

  2. One can be born Zambian and not be patriotic to Zambia.Of course.I am an Australian Citizen and our head of state is Queen Elizabeth the second but does that mean I have to be a monarchist?I love Zambia and my family there and would return tomorrow if the Dual Citizenship problem could be fixed for my wife so she can be free to live back there and have the freedom of movement to return to Australia without the bureaucratic hassles attached with the Immigration Departments of both countries.My children who left Zambia when they were five and eight and my last born who was born in Australia are unlikely to want to return so where does that leave those of us who left twenty or thirty years ago because oppurtunities were so few in Zambia?We want to contribute but laws tie us up though we still send millions of dollars home every year to help .

  3. I was born in the US, grew up in Zambia, and have worked in the US for the last 10 years. I would like to return to Zambia and contribute to the development, but the fact that I have to denounce my US citizenship in order to do this seems counterproductive. I can easily stay in the US and live the rest of my life here, but I have a desire to help Zambia, would my dual citizenship have a negative effect on Zambia? I doubt it. If Zambia and the US go to war, it'll be my personal choice which side I fight on, but should'nt we stay thinking on the positive? I think my potential contributions far outweigh the potential of a US-Zambian war.

  4. This is interesting. I have just started looking into the possibility of dual nationality, and was surprised to find that constitutional changes to that effect are being considered. My parents moved from the UK to what was then Northern Rhodesia in 1955 and I was born there in 1957. I left when my father retired and moved back to the UK in 1976. Circumstance took me away from the place of my birth and where I spent the first 19 years of my life. I'm not sure where I would stand if the constitution were to allow dual citizenship, but I can say that I have always considered myself to be Zambian (and proud of it!).
    I do hope that people like me might be included in the equation. My contibution to Zambia since I left has been restricted to charitable donations to support projects in rural areas, but as I am at an age where I am considering what I will be doing when I retire, thoughts of a return to the place of my birth are ever present. I'm sure I could make a positive contribution.

  5. I am sure you can indeed.

    We [those of us currently abroad] are trying to put together a framework (as well pursue the legislative route) that will allow people of abroad or those thinking of returning to Zambia, to contribute more positively to Zambia's development. This involves working with government to implement such.

    If you are interested in keeping in touch with that project drop me an email.

  6. It's really sad that in this century Zambia still does not allow dual citizenship. Like others have said, it would be very helpful if dual citizenship was legalised, so that those of us living overseas and still call Zambia home and value our routes as well as wanting to help our country could easily do that. We may live overseas but that does not change who we are and the connection we have with our motherland and our people.

  7. Does anyone know what the phrase "voluntary act other than marriage" mean? When does the marriage clause apply?

    "1) a citizen of Zambia shall cease to be such a citizen if at any time he acquires the citizenship of a country other than Zambia by a voluntary act other than marriage or does any act indicating his intention to adopt or make use of such citizenship;"

  8. My father happens to have come from DRC and he has lived in Zambia since 1976 and my Mother happens to be Zambian. The problem is that the immigration officers almost every December arrests my father saying he is a foreigner.
    I think he has lived enough years in Zambia to become a Zambian Citizen. I just graduated from University and really wants to help him out, what should I do.
    Even when he is taken back to Congo, where can he start from? Please assist me with information on what I should do.


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